Prepping for the upcoming fantasy football season requires asking tough questions.
Which NFL teams are set up for success? Which teams are set to struggle? Where can fantasy managers mine for latent fantasy talent? Which brand-name stars could actually disappoint?
Throughout June, I'll sift through every NFL division and highlight the most pressing fantasy question facing each team. Next up: the AFC South.
Singletary might not be an out-of-this-world talent, but he is plenty capable. The FAU product has "motored" his way to consecutive top-25 fantasy finishes, clearing 1,000 scrimmage yards and managing 13 touches per game over the past two years in Buffalo. His presence will assuredly take away from Pierce's opportunities, which is problematic for a player whose fantasy stock is largely dependent on volume. It's not that Pierce isn't a gifted runner; it's just that he plays in an offense that rarely projects to be in scoring position.
Out of 38 RBs who handled the rock at least 150 times last season, Pierce ranked 36th in fantasy points per touch (ahead of only Brian Robinson Jr. and D'Onta Foreman). Additionally, only 37.2% of his touches occurred in the red area, which obviously capped his upside. The current over/under on total regular-season wins for Houston is 5.5, per Caesars Sportsbook. Even if coach DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik supercharge the team's rebuild and post seven dubs, it's unlikely there will be enough production to thrust Pierce inside the top 15 producers at the position.
Takeaway: Pierce is a mid-to-low-end RB2 (RB20 range) with Singletary in the mix.
Is quarterback Anthony Richardson being overvalued or undervalued in re-draft formats?
Ultimately, Richardson's fantasy value depends on how a manager values his talents. It's no secret that the rookie's greatest fantasy asset exists in his legs. The Florida product is a physical marvel who averaged the highest yards per rush (6.4) among FBS QBs last season. He's a work in progress, with only 13 career starts under his belt. The gamble is whether Shane Steichen -- who was Jalen Hurts' offensive coordinator for the past two years in Philadelphia -- can unlock the whole of Richardson's potential.
Personally, I believe in the Colts' head coach and QB combo, but I'm not sure all will be realized immediately. That's why I have Richardson ranked outside of my top 14 players at the position. Evolution takes time, and the Colts are projected to win only seven games in 2023. Teams dropped back to pass 66.1% of the time when trailing (52.3% when leading) in 2022, so a bad Colts team could, theoretically, put up fantasy numbers. And, as stated earlier, there's no denying the cheat code that exists in Richardson's mobility.
Takeaway: Richardson presents with a wide range of outcomes. Rather than relying on the rookie for QB1 production, consider stashing and streaming the 21-year-old. He figures to be particularly useful in Weeks 5 and 13 when facing the Titans (and there are numerous big-name starters on bye).
�� Fantasy Debate ��
How are you approaching Anthony Richardson in standard (start one QB) redraft formats this year?
- Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF) June 1, 2023
This is a classic "floor vs. ceiling" debate.
Kirk posted a career-high 84-1,108-8 stat line in his first year as a Jaguar. The former Cardinal dominated the slot (494 slot snaps, WR3), drawing 7.8 targets per game. Even with those numbers, Kirk's production accounted for only three of the top eight fantasy performances by a Jacksonville pass-catcher (Zay Jones and Evan Engram accounted for the others). That indicates there's plenty of juice elsewhere in this offense ... which is where Ridley comes into play.
Ridley was the WR4 overall in 2020 on a PPG basis (18.8). More than 80% of his fantasy production came on perimeter targets. Therefore, he's unlikely to compete for looks with Kirk. Instead, it's expected that the former Falcon will take over Jones' role in the offense. Jones averaged 7.6 looks per contest, converting 68% of his opportunities for a career-high 82 grabs and 823 yards. When healthy, Ridley's average yards per target have exceeded 9.0 (Jones managed 6.8 YPT in 2022). Additionally, Ridley's career aDOT is more than 21% greater than Kirk's. Accordingly, his upside -- as it relates to total yardage -- is massive.
Takeaway: Kirk figures to offer stable WR3 production. Ridley offers more growth potential, though, and could help fantasy managers as he rounds into form down the stretch.
Besides RB Derrick Henry, which Titans player offers the most fantasy value in 2023?
The Titans were 29th in pass attempts and 28th in passing yards last season. With so little aerial production available, the fantasy options are few, obviously. Treylon Burks is set up to lead the receiving corps and is projected to see 95 targets. That puts him in the WR40 range with a glut of similarly uninspiring options.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, on the other hand, has the tools and opportunity to outproduce a smaller grouping of players at the more volatile tight end position. Okonkwo has already proved capable of earning looks at an elite level for the position, as he was targeted on more than 29% of his routes (behind only Kyle Pitts among TEs and just ahead of Mark Andrews). He's also more likely to remain efficient with Ryan Tannehill under center. The Titans' QB1 was 17th in aDOT and 23rd in percentage of passes over 20 yards last season, which sets up nicely for Okonkwo, who managed an average depth of target of 7.6 yards (as compared to Burks' 12.2).
Takeaway: Okonkwo is unlikely to post consistent fantasy numbers. However, his physical skills and contested catch ability set him apart on a roster devoid of pass-catching all-stars. Consider him as a top-17 tight end with top-12 potential.
Follow Liz on Twitter: @LizLoza_FF